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PREATE HAS REFUNDS FOR PENNSYLVANIA VICTIMS OF LOAN-FINDER SCAM

 PREATE HAS REFUNDS FOR PENNSYLVANIA VICTIMS OF LOAN-FINDER SCAM
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. has recovered more than $77,000 lost by Pennsylvania consumers in a nationwide loan-finder scheme.
 Now Preate says he's looking for the estimated 1,000 victims in the commonwealth so he can return their money.
 The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection in April sued Delta Financial Services Inc. of Jackson, Miss., charging that Delta didn't live up to its promise to get loans for consumers.
 Delta ran nationwide television ads soliciting consumers to call for help in getting loans, the attorney general said. Consumers who called a toll-free "800" phone number provided in the ad were told to call one of Delta's "900" numbers to submit a loan application, according to the suit.
 "Consumers who made these calls were billed $3.95 per minute while they talked with Delta employees who purportedly were taking loan application information," Preate said. "According to our investigation, the cost of each call generally ranged from $50 to $80."
 Consumers who made the calls later got letters advising them that Delta was unable to find a loan for them.
 "Delta failed to provide my office with any evidence that it obtained loans -- or even attempted to obtain loans -- for Pennsylvania consumers," Preate said.
 In response to the suit, Cambria County Common Pleas Court Judge Norman Krumenacker in late July ruled that Delta violated state law. The judge ordered that $77,293 in a Delta account controlled by AT&T be turned over to Preate's office for distribution to affected Pennsylvania consumers.
 Preate said his office now has received that money and wants to locate the victims.
 "We've been hampered in our efforts to find victims because Delta has provided no records and we received only a few consumer complaints," the attorney general said. "Many of the estimated 1,000 affected consumers in Pennsylvania probably didn't realize they were victims of a scam."
 Preate said consumers who were billed for phone calls to Delta should call his "Consumer Protection Hotline," toll-free, at 1-800-441-2555, to request a formal complaint form.
 Refunds would be mailed to qualified consumers sometime after Jan. 1, 1993, Preate said.
 The attorney general noted that although Delta advertised nationwide, Pennsylvania to date has been the only state to take legal action against Delta.
 "In the wake of our suit, the Federal Trade Commission also initiated legal action against Delta," Preate said. "That action is pending in federal court."
 Deputy Attorney General E. Barry Creany, attorney-in-charge of the Bureau of Consumer Protection's Ebensburg office, directed the state's investigation.
 Creany said the bureau's probe was prompted by a consumer complaint.
 Preate thanked Krumenacker for moving quickly to freeze Delta's funds and order the refunds. The attorney general also noted the cooperation of AT&T, which made refunds on its own to thousands of consumers in response to complaints.
 /delval/
 -0- 10/14/92
 /CONTACT: Jack J. Lewis, assistant press secretary of the Office of Attorney General, 717-787-5211, or, home, 717-657-9840/ CO: Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office; Delta Financial Services
 Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


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Date:Oct 14, 1992
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